St. Petersburg Federal Research Center
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Scientists of the St. Petersburg Federal Research Center of RAS (SPC RAS) have developed a specialized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) “Voron”, that allows for quick expanding the wireless coverage area of a certain territory from the air. The above development, in particular, can be used in an area outside the main telecommunications infrastructure, for example, for running rescue and search operations.

One of the main spheres of activity that ensures the functioning of modern economy and state institutions is the communication and information transmission system. Moreover, so far the most popular is wireless communication, mainly represented by cellular towers (so-called base stations), satellites and some other infrastructure facilities.

However, tasks often arise (like expeditions, emergency response or search activities) that require to provide communication in the absence of cellular or satellite communications. In Russia, such situations spring up in wooded or in remote areas in the North and East of the country.

“As a rule, a ground repeater is used to increase the wireless coverage area. However, if the territory is covered with hills, forests and other obstacles to the propagation of a radio signal, then the capabilities of such equipment can be greatly reduced. To solve this problem, a special Voron UAV has been developed, capable of relaying a signal from the air,” explains Anton Saveliev, Head of the Laboratory of Autonomous Robotic Systems at SPC RAS.

“Voron” can be in the air for up to 30 minutes (existing analogues count less than 20 minutes), excluding take-off and landing times. The developers from SPC RAS succeeded due to introduced optimizing and facilitating the design of the drone itself. At the same time, the drone is capable of carrying 1.5-2 kg of payload – this corresponds to the mass of the signal repeater with the appropriate attachment.

In addition, scientists have developed a better ergonomic UAV control system, composed of a special helmet that transmits a picture from the camera, and one-handed joystick, significantly simplifying  the drone’s displacement in space and turning the control process into more intuitive one.

 “Our development can be used to solve various tasks on rough or hardly accessible terrain. “Raven” can quickly expand the coverage area of a wireless network. Then, the drone can be quickly returned to the base or moved to another territory where communication is required,” Anton Saveliev notes.

Considered project is a part of the extensive work of scientists of SPC RAS on the development of unmanned aerial vehicles to be used in a variety of applications. For example, earlier researchers developed a drone for desiccating potato tops, which successfully passed tests at the farmland in the Novgorod Region.